HTML Unleashed. The Emergence of XML: The Prospects of XML
HTML Unleashed: The Emergence of XML
The Prospects of XML
is really a quite recent development. Its basic principles were all
worked out in 1996, and the first draft of the specification was
presented to the public on the SGML 96 conference in November. A
revised draft (still not final specification) was released in March
1997. As of this writing, software created for parsing XML files is
all experimental and can fit on one 3.5-inch disk.
Nevertheless, this new development is likely to seriously impact the
web industry in the near future, and in the more distant future, it
may completely change the landscape we're accustomed to. Here are
several points that were chosen as the most important goals by the
designers of the language. These may become the key advantages in the
competition of XML with other technologies:
- XML shall be straightforwardly usable over the Internet.
Web servers in use today require minimal configuration changes
to be able to serve XML documents. The standard way to link and
bind together XML documents and DTDs is via URLs that are
understood by the majority of Internet software.
- It shall be easy to write programs that process XML
documents. The experimental XML software mentioned earlier
is all written in Java, with some of the experimental XML
parsers being contained in class files of a few kilobytes in
- XML documents should be human-legible and reasonably
clear. With the users of XML being able to create their own
tags and attributes with self-explanatory names, an XML file is
likely to be nearly as readable (and in some cases, even more
readable) as plain text.
- The XML standard should be prepared quickly. It is not
yet finalized, but the amount of work done in such a short term
- The design of XML shall be formal and concise. Syntax
descriptions in XML specification use a formal grammar that is
concise, easy to understand, and easy to translate into
- XML documents shall be easy to create. As you've seen in
this chapter, the concept of well-formedness enables you to
quickly mark up any document or translate it from HTML to XML.
- Terseness in XML markup is of minimal importance. Clear
and unambiguous syntax was always given preference over the
possibility of saving a few keystrokes.
The XML technology is in an embryonic state, so any attempts to augur
its future are almost sure to not come true. However, the growing
interest in XML shown by many people concerned with web development is
a clear indication that the Web is eager to try out something more
powerful and elegant than the HTML of today.
Created: Jun. 15, 1997
Revised: Jun. 16, 1997